(Time to read this Blog is about 3 minutes)

Before we get to the main topic, here are a few things to get you thinking:

  1. My Quote of the week:

“Business is like riding a bicycle.  If you’re coasting, you’re going down hill.  You can’t coast up hill.  For that, you have to do the work.”  …Donald Cooper.

  1. Quick Biz Tip:  Some business owners, leaders and managers have ‘I trouble’.  They use “I,  Me and Mine’ when they should be using “We, Us and Our”.  Those are the words that create Team engagement.  The only time that a leader or manager should use the word “I” is when they made a mistake and they’re taking responsibility for it. 

There’s the old expression, “There’s no ‘I’ in Team!”  It’s corny…but it’s true.  When we use “I, Me and Mine’, we create a divisive culture of ‘us and them’.  “I’m the boss and you work for me!”   Do your people work ‘with’ you or ‘for’ you?  

Words matter because they reflect our mentality and create our culture.  We become what we speak.   

  1. NASA just discovered the farthest star ever seen…and it’s 12.9 billion years old.  This is in stark contrast with the ‘Creationist’ view in which a group of fundamentalist Christians believe that God created the entire universe and everything in it, in 6 days, just 6,000 to 10,000 years ago.  

I suspect they do this to find simplistic, comforting answers to complex questions rather than do the rigorous thinking required to find real answers.  

The same thing often happens in business.  We make up false theories to explain certain things that happen in order to avoid the work involved in getting to the real truth.  Don’t be a ‘lazy thinker’.  Do the work! 

  1. Is your website host blocking Russian hackers? Our website host is getting up to 50,000 hacking attempts from Russia each day on their servers.  For this reason, they’re blocking access for all Russian sourced activity.  Ask your web host if they’ve done the same to protect your site.


Now, to this week’s important topic:

The simple truth about why people buy…and why they don’t buy:

You could fill a large room with all the books ever written on the subject of why people buy and why they don’t buy and, mostly, they over-complicate the issue.  The simple truth is that people buy ‘stuff’ (including whatever you sell), in every part of their business and their personal lives for one reason only…to make some of their stress go away.

That’s it!  Whatever product, service or experience you sell, people buy your ‘stuff’ to reduce some physical or emotional stress in their lives. Therefore, your real job and, in fact, your only value is to be a stress remover. People give you money and you make some of their stress go away. That’s the deal.

Here’s a quick reality check from your own life experience. When’s the last time, when you were being a customer, that the business to whom you were giving some of your hard-earned money actually gave you more stress than you had before you gave them your money?   Did you think that this was compelling value at the time?  Could you, in fact, hardly wait to give them more of your money so that they could give you more of their stress?  No, this is ‘goofy’…and ‘goofy is a technical word for ‘stupid’!

So, what is ‘stress’ anyway?  ‘Stress’ is any physical or emotional factor that causes tension, pressure or pain.  Examples of physical stress are disease, injury, hunger, exhaustion and pain.  Emotional stresses include confusion, fear or anxiety about money, technology, safety, security, time, appearance, failure or relationships.  In our western society, generally, people have less physical stress than ever before…but more emotional stress.

When it comes to buying what you sell, stress is a ‘pull – push’ situation.  There are stresses in people’s lives that pull or attract them to buying what you sell…and then there are also stresses that prevent them from buying what you sell, or from buying it specifically from you. 

To understand your customers and your business in a whole new way, here’s a valuable little exercise that’s well worth doing.  Sit down for one hour with a small group of your brightest and most caring people.  Think and feel like a customer and answer these three questions…

  1. What are the physical and emotional stresses in our target customers’ lives that attract them to buy what we sell?
  2. What physical or emotional stresses might be preventing them from buying what we sell, or from buying it specifically from us?
  3. What physical or emotional stresses do we create for our customers when they do business with us that could prevent them from doing business with us again?

Essentially, this is an exercise in understanding what life is really like for your customers. Once you understand what stresses are ‘attracting’ and ‘preventing’ your target customers, get creative.  How can you rethink your business to dramatically emphasize the stresses that attract people to what you sell and how can you boldly eliminate the ‘preventors’ that could be keeping them from buying what you sell…or buying specifically from you?  Think ‘extraordinary, think simple acts of kindness, be gutsy, think of what has never been done before.  

Here’s a real-life example of insightful and ‘gutsy’ to show you how powerful this process can be.  One of our clients, a very successful travel agency, addressed the three questions above and came up with dozens of insights, one of which was that “fear of flying” could be a stress that’s preventing some people from becoming customers. 

One of his staff came up with the idea of offering an evening seminar on, ‘How to overcome your fear of flying’ with the help of a local psychologist.  They promoted the event with the help of local radio, TV and newspapers…and to their database.  The seminar attracted many new clients; they now offer the course twice each year…and the ongoing media coverage has helped make them ‘famous’!

Years ago, when planning our Alive & Well ‘destination’ fashion store, we included 50 large change rooms, each with 4 hooks and a mirror…and a sign that said, ‘Please take as many items in the change room as you wish!’  We understood women’s stress about the typical sign that says, “Limit 3 Items in the Change Room” and we had the guts to do something about it.  Being ‘extraordinary’ takes insight, creativity and courage!   

So, how can you use this simple insight about why people buy…and why they don’t buy to better understand your target customers?  And then how can you use that understanding and a little courage to remove stress, deliver compelling value and clearly differentiate your business at every touch-point?  This is a great topic for your next Team meeting.


That’s it for this week…

Stay safe…live brilliantly!       

Donald Cooper 


Donald Cooper speaks and coaches internationally on management, marketing, and profitability.  He can be reached by email at donald@donaldcooper.com in Toronto, Canada.

2 Responses to The simple truth about why people buy…and why they don’t buy:
  1. […] Business as Bike:  Consultant Donald Cooper says business is like a bicycle. If you’re coasting, you are going downhill. You can’t coast uphill. For that, you need to do the work. (Source: DonaldCooper.com). […]

  2. Comment *Great to hear from you. ‘Thanks’ for passing on to your followers my insight if you’re coasting, you’re going down hill. This is no time to coast. We need to do the work! Regards…Donald Cooper.


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